Last night we had what I guess I could describe as a family simcha as we hosted a little celebration for multiple siyumim. Firstly, my son has done all of Seder Nezikin except for a few blatt in the first perek of Bava Kama (so he has something to do in shiur for the rest of the year), and he made a siyum on Shavuos (he wanted to review Horiyos one more time before making a siyum on it). Secondly, I made a siyum on Talmud Yerushalmi for the first time. Thirdly, and having alomost a chazakah in doing so already, my brother-in-law, R’ Yosef Bechhofer, made a siyum on his complete second cycle through Yerushalmi. My wife deserves enormous thanks for putting together the whole siyum with lots of delicious homemade food, including homemade yerushalmi kugel (what else do you serve for a siyum on yerushalmi?), and more important than just being there at the finish line, she was and continues to be there every step of the way to make my learning possible. My brother-in-law deserves the credit for being mezakeh me and getting me to undertake learning the Yerushalmi, so hats off to him. Hinei mah tov u'mah na'im sheves achim gam yachad, and I will take achim to include brothers-in-law as well. It is special to be able to come together for no other reason other than to celebrate torah.
For those of you who have not attempted the Yerushalmi, this is your chance – the next cycle (a daf yomi cycle on Yerushalmi was instituted by the Gerrer Rebbe, the Lev Simcha, in 1980) begins this Thursday I”YH and takes only 4 1/3 years to finish, just a bit longer than half the time it would take to finish the Bavli at the same daf yomi pace. As I said at the siyum, had my brother-in-law known how gullible I was when he told me how easy learning Yerushalmi would be I would probably have in my hand the deed to one of the city’s bridges right now signed by him. I won’t kid you: the language is hard, the nusach/girsa a challenge, and the sugyos themselves have little in the way of Rishonim to help. The dapim generally are shorter than those in the Bavli, but often take longer to puzzle through (but no one says you have to feel bound to do a daf a day). One thing you absolutely gain from learning Yerushalmi: you will discover just what a remarkable work Rashi is as you struggle to do without it! But be that as it may, the Yerushalmi is torah too, and you only live once (that is, unless you are here on a gilgul return trip), so why not try? I noticed that Artscroll now has a bunch of volumes out, my BIL has taped shiurim on just about every daf that you can download for free (see here), and there are other resources out there which do make it easier. There is still a lot to struggle through, but think of it as getting shares of Apple computer when Steve Jobs was still tinkering in his garage – you will be in on the ground floor of a Torah venture that can only bring unlimited rewards. By the time they get around to a siyum at Madison Square Garden you will be a baki already.
But why aspire to the next siyum being held in the Garden? If IY”H enough people join in, maybe we will be zocheh to hold the next siyum together in Yerushalayim, b’zechus learning the Yerushalmi. After all, as R’ Yosef Chaim Sonnenfeld poinedt out, the gematriya of “Tziyon b’mishpat tipadeh” is Talmud Yerushalmi.
Bl”n I hope to share some of the divrei torah and derush that were said.